SU women’s basketball finishes season with tourney loss to South Dakota State

SU women's basketball falls to South Dakota State

Tiana Mangakahia became SU's all-time leader in assists after finishing her career with 591.
Published: March 26, 2019
Kiara Lewis attempts a layup. She finished the game with 13 points and 1 assist.

On Saturday afternoon, the Syracuse women’s basketball team had promptly defeated the Fordham Rams by 21 points in the Carrier Dome.

With such fantastic highs came the potential for serious lows. The Orange experienced a downfall after losing its second-round matchup to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, 75-64, dashing Syracuse’s Sweet 16 hopes.

The night began with a frenetic pace, both teams moving up and down the court quickly. The ball seemed like it could only remain on one end of the floor for a maximum of ten seconds or so before it found its way through the net or ended up in the hands of the defense. Though the Orange turned the ball over twice over the first minute of the game, they eventually settled down and matched the focus of the Jackrabbits, who were unfazed by the NCAA Tournament stage.

Despite the size advantage at the guard position for South Dakota State (two of their guards are listed at 6 feet tall), the Orange began to lock in defensively, causing multiple shot clock violations against the Jackrabbits throughout the game. The Orange settled in after those early turnovers and began trading blows with the visiting team.

By the end of the third quarter, both teams looked as if they had the potential to come out on top. Both teams had the talent and the will to win. They certainly could have moved on to the next round of the tournament.

The start of the fourth period was a completely different story. Syracuse started the quarter on a 10-0 run, with eight of those points coming within the first minute and a half of the final quarter. That minute and a half included three steals and a spectacular behind-the-back pass from Tiana Mangakahia, who now holds the school record with 591 assists. This sudden turnover barrage caused SDSU to take a timeout and regain its composure.

During this run, the Syracuse crowd somehow got louder and louder with each made basket. The Orange were only up four with more than seven minutes remaining in the game, but the lead felt insurmountable, if only for that short while. The crowd had a reason to cheer and was making it as difficult as possible for the visitors to get back in the game.

“I think our emotions and our energy…that’s why we took the lead,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game.

And yet, the Jackrabbits were able to prove why they had they been deemed worthy of a tournament spot. As quickly as Syracuse had taken the lead, they had lost it. South Dakota State ended the game on a 15-2 run, partially thanks to three-point shots from Madison Guebert.

“Nothing was really going for us in the last three, four minutes,” Mangahakia said at the post-game press conference.

Syracuse finishes with a 25-9 record on the season.

Digna Strautmane fights for the ball late in the fourth quarter. She finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.